Lessons from Swabi Retreats

  1. There was a shift in energy as Kris left with people fading out
  2. When we shifted more to the educational/project-based part of the agenda, people may have also faded out. Was this due to a willingness to receive but not as much a desire to give in those ways?
  3. Getting a good RSVP is probably important as a way of honoring the work of organizers. You sit at the table if you have reserved a spot. This relates also to other forms of commitment.
  4. When forming a group, be as clear as possible about the mission. Swabi was very broad and experimental at first and leaned very much in the direction of a retreat but without any components of intellectual- and project-based content which was always part of the intention. The reason for this was the idea of building the group emotionally and spiritually as a foundation so the intellect wouldn’t swamp the heart, but now I think that being very clear from the start would be better, a lesson I’ve applied to a resilience group at Troy to good effect.
  5. Friday night is a hard night. I’m not sure what would be better, but something to consider.
  6. 3 hours might be too long
  7. Keep everything simple. Food too (it was nice to evolve to very simple…did people fade because of burnout in making the food and then fade also b/c the food became simple?)
  8. Invitation strategy for inviting first attendees was good. We chose hosts who then invited up to 5 people. Hand-delivered first invitation is a nice touch but doesn’t need to continue after that.
  9. Meeting quarterly is not frequent enough. Prefer monthly.
  10. Doing something is probably an important glue for a community like this. Moving from talking to doing.
  11. It’s important to have a listserve or some way for people to communicate outside the group. This should be an explicit understanding for anyone that signs up on the mailing list, that it will be shared with everyone. There were technological hurdles here that we never overcame: google groups require a google account and prevents control; other services cost money. Buddypress is probably a good solution but would have required a little more technical expertise or time than we had.

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